Johann Sebastian Bach and the Myth of Authenticity (Part 2)

by Rosalyn Tureck

From the Rosalyn Tureck Collection,
Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University

[Part 1 | Part 2]

The Lisztian performance style, applied to Bach's structures, was widely accepted, persisting in the numerous Bach transcriptions of the late 19th and early 20th centuries by such figures as Tausig, Feruccio Busoni, August Stradal, and others. But a portion of open-eyed/eared musicians and scholars recoiled from it within Liszt's own lifetime. Marx rejects Liszt, but he also conveys the fact that he does not find Griepenkerl's claims of authenticity satisfactory either. Griepenkerl interpreted Marx's letter as an unequivocal challenge to a duel, and without delay he picked up the glove. Marx was promptly challenged by Griepenkerl in a letter published the following month on February 16, entitled "Once again ["Noch einmal"]: J. S. Bach's Chromatic Phantasie". [23] Griepenkerl's reply reasserts his well known position: "In the case of older compositions ... which have become historic, there is only one conception, namely the historically correct one, insofar as we can ascertain it." Griepenkerl's avowal, as far as we can ascertain it, is now made, 29 years after his 1819 publication, reflecting the growing perception that accompanies the passage of time. He continues: " tries to save what one can, and do one's duty even if one disagrees with Herr Professor Marx." He resists any hope of meeting Marx on a common ground as is the expressed hope of Marx as he proposed in his letter of Jan. 19th. Referring to Sebastian's manner of performance and that of Sebastian's two sons, Wilhelm Friedemann and Carl Phillip Emmanuel, whom he could never have heard, and of Forkel, his teacher, he writes: "One must have heard this, or one can never learn to play a fugue by J. S. Bach correctly. The old compositions without their traditional interpretation are a historical untruth." These statements are daunting to even the most dogmatic of traditionalists; they benumb any hope of posterity for ever achieving a valid performance of a Bach fugue or any other composition.

Marx's reply in the following month's issue covered a good deal of ground, but the essence of his riposte is contained within the following lines: "...if [for various early composers] traditions are lacking, then all these works would become historical untruths in our hands ... let us consider this continuous chain from Sebastian Bach to us, that means a full century and ask ourselves: Can a tradition be passed along in its full conception and content ... Can one be sure that in all particulars one is receiving the composer's intentions, or, much more likely, that of the conceptions and changes wrought by the middle men? ... Emmanuel Bach, for example, ... has in his own compositions travelled so different a path that we may, with all due respect question whether his ideas and their execution by his father remained alive in him. [24] Marx draws the curtain of certainty aside when he points to the "different path" taken by Emanuel who is held up by Griepenkerl as an intermediary handing on to posterity the chaste, unvarnished performance style of his father. Although Emanuel retained many valuable aspects of earlier practices as we see in his famous book 'Versuch über die wahre Art das Klavier zu speilen'—"Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments" [25] the new aesthetic, the forms and structures and the performance manner of his own mid-18th century, which leapt into fundamentally new formal, structural and stylistic modes, infiltrate his teachings and his compositions. Marx, it would be universally agreed today, is right in saying that he "travelled so different a path" from his father.

This correspondence of 1848 documents the forking of the paths represented by Marx and Griepenkerl as widening from each other increasingly in their quest for musical validity. The academic community intensified and expanded their pursuit of greater care with notetexts, of accumulating data on the manufacture of historical instruments, uncovering and translating historical treatises on performance, etc. 1850 marks the commencement of a thoroughgoing researched scholarly edition of Bach's collected works. The great contribution of the work of scholars throughout the last hundred and fifty years has enriched the work of everyone involved with the studies and performance of music of the past where the direct tradition has been lost, being embraced by the followers of Marx's path as well as that of Griepenkerl.

But the orthodox stance of correctness and ever-increasing emphasis on replication as forming the holy grail for achieving successfully the sounds, the stylistic manner and aesthetic/emotional/associational qualities that professional musicians of a past historical era conveyed and their listeners experienced was never accepted by a significant segment of mid-nineteenth century musicians, as is documented in Marx's letters of 1848. Essentially, leaving aside the extremes practiced on both paths, the dissenting musicians of the twentieth century reason in line with Marx in rejecting the faith in the success of replication, rejecting the view that it forms the infallible way to 'authentic' interpretation, performance and unobstructed reception. The dissenting musicians persisted in their beliefs and with their performances forming, in effect, a comparatively small voice for over a century.

The replication of historical instruments was crude, to some, distressingly so, throughout the first 50-60 years of the 20th century during which time the manufacture of harpsichords and other seventeenth/eighteenth century instruments expanded into a booming industry. But replication had still a long way to go despite the majority approval of this conceptual platform. The harpsichords of Wanda Landowska, the famous protagonist of harpsichord performance in the second quarter of the twentieth century, were manufactured by Pleyel in Paris to her precise specifications. These were the harpsichords on which she performed her famous and influential recitals in France and New York. These instruments were built with a metal frame, as is the modern piano, strung with piano strings, with modern piano size keys. Landowska performed with all the registrations on simultaneously, worked by pedals all pressed down. When she chose to vary her sonority, she lifted a pedal, removing the registration. This usage, of having all registrations on as the standard, sonority, and releasing a registration for variety whether via pedals or hand stops is contrary to historical harpsichord sonority technique and applications in performance. (The subject of hand stops, pedal registrations and the additional application of 16', which Landowska specified for her harpsichord and applied frequently, constitutes still another point in the accurate replication of early 18th century harpsichords and harpsichord performance.) I learned the precise details of Landowska's specifications from the Pleyel manufacturers when I visited the Pleyel headquarters in Paris in the early 1960's to study their methods of harpsichord making and on receiving this information I decided against placing an order with Pleyel for a harpsichord. Although in some quarters today she is regarded as the "Mother" of the modern movement for harpsichord performance, many in the academic community never did approve of her harpsichords or her performance. Curl Sachs makes a veiled allusion to her instrument and her performance "Many of our harpsichordists (but they are usually better than the gambists) play on modern reconstructions which, having pedals instead of less convenient handstops, allow the lady to shift so rapidly from one combination to the other that she occasionally indulges in the most astonishing colorific exercises, to say nothing of her sixteen-foot debauches." [26] Nevertheless, her platform was presented unequivocally by her as authentic, explicitly banishing the notion of performance on the piano. Moreover, little distinction between the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries pianos was made at that time. The essential problem here is contained in the claim that "authenticity", i.e. replication of the sonority, stylistic performance and aesthetic conception of the era of Sebastian Bach, was successfully achieved.

Manufacture of period instruments has improved greatly since the mid-50's, as have performance techniques not only on the harpsichord but also on other period instruments as well. However, despite the fact that harpsichords today are greatly improved as result of being quite meticulously built by informed builders according to original historical models, these improvements have not prevented the collapse of the belief in the success, or even the possibility, of achieving 'authenticity'. The very improvements illuminate the fact that improved technical replication does not reproduce the experience that antecedent performers produced and their listeners received in centuries past.

Deeper levels of creativity and response account, even more strongly than meticulous reproduction, for the inescapable alienation of ongoing posterity from the aesthetic creative vision, formulations and responses natural to antecedent cultures. Similarly, instrumental technologies and stylistic performance, in which historical performance practice is involved, are not enclosed within their single disciplines. They emerge from a period's general underlying sense of form and structure, laced with nuances of sensibility that interact in varying degrees with period technology associated with the expanding possibilities of. traditional instruments and inventions of new media. Beyond all technological considerations, our aesthetic interpretation of, and expectations in responding to, sonorities is such that no pre-20th century musician could even imagine. Twentieth-century media, structure, idioms and concepts of form have provided the underlying foundation for contemporary aural experience, an experience unique to our era.

It seems to me that a crucial, primary question with regard to media and performance and the use of media for Sebastian Bach's compositions is: What principle emerges from Bach's own practices? Is there evidence of his stance and practice regarding sonorities? Was his practice to prescribe his compositions for specific instruments and to limit and individualize sonorities? There are indeed instances where the prescriptions are explicit, as in instrumental allocations of the orchestra and vocal parts in his cantatas and Passions as well as compositions allocated to solo violin, organ and clavier. On the other hand, there are over 300 instances of his allocating entirely different instrumental, vocal and choral settings for the same, often identical music of his own compositions and near 300 instances of his re-settings of the compositions of other composers. [27] To cite very briefly only a few instances—The famous concertos scored by Bach for violin, (BWV 1041 and 1042) in A minor and E major respectively, are also scored by him for 'clavier', a generic term for a keyboard instrument which in this case would indicate the harpsichord, (BWV 1054 and 1058) in D major and G minor, respectively. The change of key is due to the transfer from a violin fingerboard to a keyboard, a simple technical matter of physical suitability. The music itself undergoes minimal, expedient adjustments relating to the differences of the mechanism of each instrument and finger techniques that suit the technological nature of each instrument. The sonorities of the violin with its bowed, long, 'singing' tone and the harpsichord with its plucked, short-lived tone are maximally alien to each other. In Bach's most famous 'harpsichord' concerto, (BWV 1052) in D minor the solo keyboard part in its first two movements was set virtually identically for organ solo in Cantata BWV 146 with little change, as well, in the orchestra parts of each. The second movement of the Cantata contains a four-part choral addition to the solo organ and orchestra parts and these solo and orchestra parts match, essentially, those movements of the harpsichord concerto. Further, it appears certain that the harpsichord concerto was originally scored by Bach for violin, the figurations being unarguably 'violinistic'. The manuscript itself of the violin version is lost. The cantata goes on happily to its duos and trios; the harpsichord concerto continues with its own third movement. No one is the loser in any way for their divergent sonorities—the plucked tone of the harpsichord and the long sustained, weird sonority of the organ.

In his keyboard works, there is clear indication that they are allocated to "clavier". "Clavier" does not easily translate into a specific instrumental allocation. Does "clavier" mean organ, harpsichord, clavichord or fortepiano? There is little precise certainty; their sonorities, techniques and volumes are distinctly discrepant. We can only guess in certain cases which one(s) is (are) more appropriate. On the whole, the solo clavier compositions succeed on more than one of these diverse sounding keyboard instruments. The question of precise or correct or original intention of Sebastian as to instrument(s) remains today a rich area for debate; for instance, Bach's Toccatas BVW 910-916 were regarded for a long time with certainty as conceived for harpsichord, but recently strong arguments have been brought forward to "prove" that they are composed for the organ. But Bach's own frequent imprecision and his own practise in scoring the same music for so divergent volumes, textures and techniques in so many instances appears to demonstrate that his music and his musical 'intentions' were not bonded to specific instruments and their distinctive tonal characteristics. In this sense, Bach's music is absolute, it is not dependent upon specific sonorities as in the case of, for instance, Debussy, Ravel, Wagner etc. The hundreds of diverse settings by Bach are not newly acquired data. These have been largely indubitably clear since the systematic investigation and collation of the Bach oeuvre by the editors of the Bach Gesellschaft in the mid-nineteenth century. However, although the varied settings by Bach are universally and incontrovertibly acknowledged, the principle that underlies Bach's varied settings of the same music has been little observed. The multiple existence of these varied settings eloquently bespeak Bach's independence from enchaining or limiting his musical forms and structures to specific sonorities and textures. It reflects a way of thinking wherein the basic conception of music is independent of distinctly differentiated sonorities and textures. The principle that shines forth from these divergent media settings asserts the fact that, in very many cases, Bach did not create an 'ur' version that dictates and/or limits performance to a single "intended" tonal quantity and quality of sonority. Those associations which have bonded to specifically allocated sonorities and timbres, form the stamp of one of the most crucial, overall identifying musical characteristics of the twentieth century.

Bach's varied settings are referred to today as "transcriptions", a term which is associated with such transcriptions as those of Liszt and Busoni, where adjustments to the techniques and sonorities of the transcribed version abound. Conversely, Sebastian's versions are re-settings of the same music with minimum adjustments to the diverse media, sonorities, volumes and techniques. These versions are a far cry from the mindset and style of nineteenth century transcriptions. Bach's transfers assert a basic principle that lies unequivocally within his point of view, namely, the music itself, its thought, form and structure, are paramount; the media secondary, free-ranging to the point where volumes, qualities, tonal effects, no matter how antithetical they are to each other in re-set versions, require little readjustment to varied media or vocal techniques and are fully acceptable to Bach himself as fulfilling his musical thought and structures, and his "intentions" for performance.

Therefore, Bach's practice of so frequently employing the same music interchangeably in compositions for a solo instrument, voice, chamber orchestra, chorus which involve maximally varied sonorities, volumes and techniques, is most markedly distinct from the twentieth-century notion of authenticity in prescribing performance on specific instruments was. This does not agree with the long prescribed dictum that authentic realisation of the composer's intentions is dependent upon a specific sonority—the single "right" sonority. In the 1950's and 60's, one internationally recognised harpsichordist and musicologist used to advise his students: "You may play Bach in the privacy of your home but never in public". Although the term and stance of 'authenticity' has now been abandoned, the basic orthodoxy, like all orthodoxies, dies hard and with reluctance. Terms and faiths may be disavowed, but the radiation from this long established concept and practice is, and remains, slow in fading.

On the other hand, quite apart from that of media selection, the most dangerous aspect that has emerged from a hasty departure in mindset from the 'authentic' orthodoxy is the recourse to relativism in contemporary performance style. The door is wide open, to every and any individual's perception, interpretation, manner of performance justifiable and acceptable as 'his/her way of playing'. Great recreative art, which in my view is a mandatory goal if one embarks on performing great creative musical art, requires immeasurably more than an individually imposed style. The unending labour involved in continuous studies, development and refinement of techniques, perceptions of data, fresh formulations of concepts and aesthetic vision, all of which are a virtually natural ingredient of significant creative work, apply equally to the needs of the serious minded performer who regards performance as an art, rather than a vehicle for the display of skill and individuality, or, on the other side of the coin, the "correct" recounting of historical data.

Performance, dealing with an art, is an art in itself as well. The responsibility and intuition required in a performance of a musical composition of a past era has a certain kinship with the responsibility and intuition that is required, for instance, of a good translation of the work of a great poet of a prior time. Accuracy and correctness of translation and replication of meaning are crucial and desirable;however, these are, for an artwork, only the starling points for producing a kinship in translation with the quality of the poem, the particularised imaginative associations of its own era as well as those of the poet and the poet's individual influences, the concept of form and the additional nuances that underlie those particular formal relationships and tools of structure.

Form and structure constitute a framework and, in a sense, the literal expression of the underlying concept from which explicit recognisable forms and styles of structure emerge; these are analysable by theories of analysis successively invented on the part of posterity from era to era and by diverse cullings and identifications of "influences" from other cultures. Although explicit features of form, structure, manner, sonorities, are traceable in objective research and form crucial data, idiomatic phrases, particularised cultural usages of words and expressions are, to a greater rather than lesser degree, difficult to impossible to translate. The 'ur' syndrome cannot apply here. Similarly, aesthetic nuances and associations embody the music of each age; these are hardly explicitly traceable within their own age, let alone perceivable by a posterior culture. Here, art enters. Coupled with it must be reliable data, but reproduction of the data alone, even according to the best sources, does not succeed in transmitting the inner thought and quality of an artist.

The emphasis on the notion of music as indissolubly united with particularised, individual sonorities, textures and quantities is modern, having developed since the early/mid-nineteenth century. This bonding was greatly abetted by the development of existing instruments, such as the flute and trumpet, and the continuously expanding size of the piano and the variety of tonal effects and volume of the symphony orchestra.

The blossoming of tonal colour possibilities fructified creative musical minds of the nineteenth century, emphasising a focus on particularised textures and volumes. The revolution of musical structuring that erupted at the opening of the twentieth century by way of Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg and Anton Webern, led also to an even more radical departure in sonority and texture by way of such composers as George Antheil and Honegger, with Olivier Messaien and Edgar Varese employing sonority, texture and register as structural/form building components. Since then, of course, the creative productions through the last fifty years of key figures such as Alan Hohvanness, Pierre Boulez, [Harrison Paul] Birtwistle, the prepared piano of John Cage and the use of electronic instruments and sound applications in the music of Ernst Krenek as well as Stockhausen and others, to mention only a very few, demonstrate that musical structure is now bonded to sonorities, volumes and textures. These and rhythmic motives take precedence over pitch-bonded structures as in Western music since at least medieval times (to name a convenient time frame). It is inevitable that so profound a change in creative musical thought and productions as well as the structured employment of sonatas, penetrates the thought and musical stance, conscious and unconscious, embracing the entire academic community of the twentieth century, the performer and listener alike.

The symbiosis of structure and specific quantities, qualities, textures and short-long timings have a history of their own. An account of our modern Weltanschauung and practice must be limited here to a greatly abbreviated scan of twentieth century musical concepts that point to a fundamentally new relationship of structure and sound.

In 1949 a fairly comprehensive series of statements from influential composers was published in book form entitled Contemporary Composers on Contemporary Music [28] The editors write, in their Introduction "The Revolution in Musical Aesthetics":

"...the more experimental composers have argued that ... [their] sole concern is with sound newly and freshly heard as sound, and silence as silence" [p.XVI]

" avenues of expression, unusual relationships of pitch, timbre and duration, and perhaps a new kind of abstraction—concerned with sound and structure for their own sake" [p.XVII]

" is in this aesthetic distinction that we discover the true twentieth-century revolution in musical composition" [p.XVII]

A brief comment by the editors regarding Edgard Varese (1885-1965), and by Varese himself, must suffice here:

"Varese was responsible for many innovations; among those were his use of electronic instruments and tape, as well as his concern with scientific developments and their musical forces. Perhaps even more significant, however, was his approach to music not in terms of the doctrine of the affections but as sonoric and rhythmic balance—the brightness of sonority for its own sake." [Ed. P. 195]

"At a time when the very newness of the mechanism of life is forcing our activities and our forms of human association to break with the traditions and the methods of the past in the effort to adapt themselves to circumstance, the urgent choices which we have to make are concerned not with the past but with the future. We cannot, even if we would, live much longer by tradition. The world is changing and we change with it." [Edgard Varese, p. 137]

The deepening of our insight into basic principles that are accountable for twentieth century concepts of form and structure, appears to me to emerge largely from the extraordinary advances in the sciences which so explicitly characterize our contemporary culture. This reference to the sciences does not imply imitation of scientific methodologies or their results. It refers to such a departure from long established beliefs as those that, for instance, form the notion of absolute knowledge and certainty which have radically and pervasively transformed every aspect of the thought and disciplines of contemporary culture. It may not be amiss to quote one example from a totally different discipline and area of enquiry—botany, where the concern with authenticity and the 'ur', the pure original, is shown to be as vital as in our modern concern in the field of the recreation of music of the past.

I quote a short excerpt from a lecture entitled 'The Authenticity of the Independence of Individuals in Biology', given in Oxford, U.K., April 20, 1997, by the distinguished botanist, Sir David Smith: "This essay explores the extent to which a true, authentic, independent individual can be considered to exist in biological systems. It is hoped to demonstrate that hardly any living organism is really a genetically authentic, independent individual. ... From the lime lichens were first mentioned in the literature by Theophrastus in about 300 B.C. up until 1867, they were regarded as simple, authentic plants and were named as such. Microscopic examination showed their structure to be fairly simple. ... Then, in 1867, a Swiss Botanist, S. Schwendener, propounded the theory that a lichen was not a single, authentic plant but an association between an alga and a fungus. ... The concept that an apparently single organism—a lichen—was in fact a symbiosis between two very different organisms caused a great deal of controversy, and took some time to be established. ... However, by the end of the 19th century, incontrovertible proof was provided by being able to isolate and grow the separate component in culture dishes." [29]

No doubt the exquisitely developed and refined contemporary research methods and their results have illuminated our perception of the music of the past. However, the essentiality of devoting equal time and attention to studies of one's own modes of thought and interpretation, both of which are activated in performance and reception, has received little or no attention. Posterity's ongoing interrelationship with Bach and his music requires this new dimension of study.

Myriad complexities operate within the creative vision and contribute vitally to the end (so-called) product. These continue to fertilize the creative process of a work. The resettings of his compositions by Sebastian Bach, revisions by Beethoven or by Stravinsky, to name major representations of the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries in this brief backward look, attest to the fact that an "ur" version in musical composition is as questionable as in the composition of lichen. Our view and active involvement with the thought, masterworks and practices of past cultures cannot avoid the inclusion, equally, of the complexities of the creative vision of both the past and our contemporary mindset. Arising from this platform it seems self evident that two parallel studies are involved in our continual search for understanding and meaningful interpretation of our past. That historical research must continue and connect with the artist-performer should require no debate. That knowledge about the material, thought, manner, media, is essential for perception, and any attempt of interpretation of a product of the past appears to me so self-evident that no special urging in its direction is required. Bertrand Russell alluding to the subject of perception writes: "Modern physics and physiology throw a new light upon the ancient problem of perception. If there is to be anything that can be called "perception", it must more or less resemble the object if it is to be a source of knowledge of the object." [30]

Emphasis upon the replication stance of "authenticity" occurred in Shakespearean studies of the 1920's and 1930's. Entire lives were devoted to discovering and duplicating the accent of Shakespeare's actors. Major research included trips to the remote hills of Kentucky where it was claimed that, due to the continued isolation of the progeny of earlier settlers, the purest early English accent was retained. Efforts to reproduce literally, in all respects, the performances of Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre were finally abandoned with the result that, since the early 1950's, Shakespeare is performed in varied settings, ranging from the conventional, traditional, to the idiosyncratic. Although a Globe Theatre has been built recently in London, the efforts of the 1920's and 1930's are not being pursued. In a study of Shylock, [31] John Gross writes of this problem arising from attempts to recreate Shakespeare plays and characters. He refers to the essays by Elmar Edgar Stoll (1874-1959) on Shakespeare's ghosts (1907), on Shylock (1911) and on Shakespeare's criminals (1912). His "position can best summed up as a tough-minded historicism, a firm conviction that an author can only be properly understood in the context of his own times. In the case of Shakespeare, that meant entering into Elizabethan attitudes and beliefs: it meant accepting that his art had been shaped by theatrical conventions and the expectations of his audience. ... Then, gradually, the challenge was absorbed. Younger critics rejected the idea of identifying the meaning of a literary work with its author's intentions (even assuming we could be certain what those intentions were). They were equally impatient with the notion that a play could only be discussed in terms that would have been acceptable to its original audience; it was absurd, wrote W. K. Wimsatt, to suppose that all critical insights about Shakespeare stopped shortly after the time of Shakespeare". [32]

My pointing to "our own modes of thought and interpretation" does not refer to the comparatively simplistic study of how performers of today actually play Bach in the early or the late years of the 20th century. This can be easily researched by way of recordings and performance editions of the lime. In historical studies one depends on treatises of the period, on accounts by people close to the composer in question, study of the instruments in fashion and similar related materials. Essentially, this method of research is concerned with the explicit manner of performance. I allude to the underlying concepts that form our relationship to forms, structures, and all manner of interpretation of these, with their accompanying contemporary standards of acceptance and rejection. Such standards for judgment are the results, taken for granted, of an approved view of the time. The conscious perception of the causes and development of selection often hardly reached the level of consciously aware investigation in any age. But the contemplation and analysis of the causes for, and style of, our own choices constitutes a dimension that is crucial to the entire argument and activity.

We can no longer remain in the safe harbour of a single discipline. The awesome advances in disciplines of science throughout the 20th century, Heisenberg's principle of uncertainty, the profound changes brought about by quantum theory, as well as the theories of chaos and fractals and their inevitable influences on aesthetic concepts of form and structure, have catapulted us into what may justifiably be labelled the age of uncertainty. The loss of security brought about by the loss of the anchor that characterises belief in absolute knowledge and single standards, upon which certainty about musical 'authenticity' has been based, brought about a universal debate regarding the very notion of authenticity and of 'right' and 'wrong' views which provided an assured, secure platform for interpretation and performance during the better part of the last century and a half. On the contemporary side, we must face, acknowledge and commence studies in our implicit, underlying aesthetic assumptions and responses which fuel our judgements in our current century.

The crucial question for contemporary probing towards understanding the art of a past era—How do we think, today, 300 years since the period of Bach's lifetime?—emerges no matter which side or which leanings are most sympathetic to our time. Inevitably the attempts to reproduce and to experience a meaningful relationship with an art of the past must include involvement, on the deepest level, with both the historical and the contemporary Weltanschauung, forms structures, aesthetic associations and practices. The contemporary outlook had been virtually omitted from Bach scholarship. Let us admit ourselves into a territory in which we make claims, interpret treatises and music texts,and issue dicta, that embrace inclusively the sovereign existence of the symbiosis of both past and contemporary concepts and both ways of fashioning matter and manner. The very productions in much of Sebastian Bach's oeuvre demonstrate that he did not share our desire for exact replications or a single mono-system of 'ur' versions.

There is no doubt that Johann Sebastian speaks in fundamental universal terms deep-rooted in the human condition no matter how fashions change in forms, structures, applications and their relationships. Our rapport with Bach's universal terms is conveyed with greater integrity when conscientious historical research amalgamates with the full recognition of our own attitudes and sensibilities forming the inevitably inescapable symbiosis of a living, communicating, aesthetic organism. Polonius's advice to his son applies not only to an individual but also to an era:

"This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man" [33]

[Part 1 | Part 2]